The National Prayer Breakfast was canceled this year for the first time in nearly 20 years following a dispute over a social media post by President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) supporting the LGBT community.
The event’s preparatory committee said in a statement on Thursday that to prevent further disputes and misunderstandings between members, the annual meeting, originally set for yesterday, would not be held.
The prayer meeting, which has been held since 2001, is organized by Christian organizations of several denominations.
Themed “Love without borders,” this year’s event was supposed to take place at the Miracle Top Church’s MeHAS Complex Hall in New Taipei City’s Sindian District (新店).
However, on Wednesday, the committee sent a letter to the Presidential Office, asking that an envoy be sent to attend the event on behalf of the president, as committee members do not support Tsai’s stance on LGBT issues and were not happy about a remark she had made about the gay pride parade.
The dispute arose after Tsai posted a message on Facebook on Sunday inviting the public to celebrate the 18th annual LGBT Pride Parade.
Following the group’s letter, the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan issued a separate statement on Thursday morning, saying that holding a national prayer breakfast without the head of state in attendance runs counter to its purpose.
In the past, Taiwan’s president has always spoken at the annual event, said the organization, which supported Tsai’s participation at this year’s event, despite the reaction to her Facebook post.
It also said it had withdrawn from its role in the preparatory committee.
On Thursday afternoon, Presidential Office spokesman Xavier Chang (張惇涵) said that Tsai “respectfully declined” to attend the breakfast meeting, adding that she does not want people to quarrel over the matter after a majority of committee members asked the president not to attend.
Following Chang’s remarks, the committee issued a statement canceling the event.
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